The Post I’ve Been Too Embarrassed To Write: Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about brawling at Hot Topic. I’d break it into three posts, but then sj might just curl up in the floor and die.


There were about six other people in the store, including a woman who was already checking out at the register. I got in line behind her. Sort of. There isn’t a logical place to stand in line. There’s a rack of music right in front of the counter which forces customers to choose a spot to the right or to the left of the person at the register. I took my spot and waited. And waited. And waited. As it turns out, three of the other people in the store belonged to Lady at the Counter. After Lady paid for her purchases, one of her girls darted from the back of the store, dropped her stuff on the counter, and took out her money. Hapless Sales Guy gave me an apologetic smile and let the kid buy her stuff.

Another couple came to the register at about the same time Lady at the Counter’s other girl ran up to pay for her merchandise, the husband giving a friendly nod. It was a complicated transaction that required several trips to the back of the store to find an identical item with a price tag. Squish was being good, but I was definitely getting frustrated. Finally the kid was through. Just in time for Lady’s son to come up and take his turn. I was patient.

The Lady out of the way, I stepped forward to put my stuff on the counter. And so did the other woman standing there. After such a long and frustrating wait, I think it’s safe to say that none of us were at our best.  I am not proud of the events that followed.

Hapless Sales Guy gave woman his award-winning apologetic smile, pointed at me, and said “This lady was next.” The woman looked at me, noticing me for the first time and said “I’ve been standing here for ten minutes. I was next.” I left out some of her more colorful words. I have never been sworn at by a stranger.

Hapless Sales Guy reached for my stuff rather noncommittally, leaving it up to me to decide. The woman raised her voice. Her husband tugged at her sleeve and confirmed that I had indeed been waiting longer than she had. She brushed him off and raised her voice. At me. Dropping some f-bombs in front of not only my son, but also her own.

I am not a selfish person. Call it timid or polite. I don’t seek out confrontation. I strive to follow the teachings of Christ, to think of others before myself.  I’d have let her go ahead of me if it was so important to her. But I. Will. Not. Be. Bullied. Period.

My sense of self-preservation brain turned off, and I turned to her, knees shaking and said “I am truly sorry. I was here before you.” And I shoved my merchandise at Hapless Sales Guy. In outraged surprise, the woman let fly with a string of the most creative and varied profanity I have ever heard. I’m not even sure I know what all of the words meant, but I certainly got the gist. Sailor-mouthed woman was displeased with me. But I stood my ground, chin up, refusing to be browbeaten. And praying that my sphincter would hold.

She continued with her tirade, and as I listened, my blood pressure started to rise. My sympathetic nervous system became much less sympathetic and moved from “flight” to “fight.” How dare this woman vent her spleen on someone she had never seen before in her life over something so minor, and in front of two children to boot? How dare she treat me like this?  I was coming closer and closer to dropping an “f-bomb” or two of my own, which, I cannot say strongly enough, is a limit to which I have never been pushed. Who the heck did she think she was?

At that moment, an angel put its arm gently around my shoulder and stuffed an invisible sock in my mouth. My good sense reengaged as the angel whispered in my ear a reminder that people who cuss out (I couldn’t find a suitable non-Southern term that was applicable) strangers in shopping malls where people are sometimes shot may not stop at words. If her husband was afraid of her, maybe I should keep my fat mouth shut.

My shoulder angel always gives me sage advice.

If I’d had any inkling of this chick’s volume of crazy, not only would I have let her go first, I’d have offered her a ride to the pharmacy to get her prescriptions refilled. I think I blocked the rest of the encounter out. There were some vague threats, I think. Maybe not-so-vague. My brain quit processing words at all, and she turned into every adult on a Peanuts cartoon, all honk, no predicate nominative. It was for the best.

I don’t know at what point I noticed that all she had to pay for was a pack of gum and a shirt. And that Hapless Sales Guy was rather speedy about his business. And that there’s only one central exit from the mall. And that I had passed this family in the parking lot on the way in. I took my bag from Hapless Sales Guy and left. I walked tall and proud. And fast.

And I’ve never been back.

23 thoughts on “The Post I’ve Been Too Embarrassed To Write: Part 2

  1. Thank goodness you saw sense – it truly can be that banal, that reason for shooting someone. We hate shopping too – you just have to perfect your online methods and you’ll almost never need to visit such horrid places again.

  2. I’ve had a similar thing happen and it’s amazing how your head just spins, caught between wanting to defend yourself and get a good zinger in too, and maintaining your integrity. It’s awful, and doubly so that your son was there. Ick. Sorry you experienced this.

  3. It certainly takes all kinds. You are a better person than I. I admit it. I would have not only made sure I went first, but I would have taken my sweet old time paying for my goods. There is a reason I carry a big ol’ bag of pennies around with me. 🙂

  4. Embarrassed??? I’d be shouting from the rooftops! You kept your cool in the face of absolute disrespect, rudeness, ignorance, the list goes on. I would have been tempted to at least give a sarcastic zinger and a hearty eye roll. I applaud your maturity and self control. And believe me, the only one embarrassed in that store was the woman’s husband. Poor guy.

  5. Best line: And praying that my sphincter would hold.

    I think my cursing atheist butt would have reciprocated but then again in that kind of situation I very most likely would have done just as you did and pretended as though she was not there. I WOULD have gone first and stood my ground but it would have stopped there unless and until she took it too far. Good job!!! Scary!

  6. I’ve had this on my screen since you posted it, not having had time to read it, but I was not going to ignore it as I wanted to see the conclusion.

    WELL DONE!!!! I had something similar to that once, and I just said “If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic” and the woman didn’t give the abuse you got. I would have opened up with both barrels, so well done for holding your cool.

  7. I think it was great that you went ahead and made your purchase. I get get sick of bullying too. Like you, I hate confrontation, but personally, I think someone needed to stand up to that lady. You might have been the first person to actually do it. AND even better, you didn’t lose your cool. When I had patrons yell at me at the library I would try to stay as cool as possible right back – eventually they’d figure out they weren’t getting anywhere (especially when there really was absolutely nothing I could do to help them with something) and stop. And then they are the ones that look bad, not you.

    The book says the meek shall inherit, right? Maybe you might have, just for a second, made her realize that not everyone can be pushed around. Even if your sphincter was stressed (mine would have been too, lol). Way to go.

  8. Sounds to me like you showed the most class. That sailor-mouth woman? Big fail. Whether she’d been having a rotten day or just needed a pill is beside the point. NO ONE should be “treated” to this kind of venom, especially in public, especially by a stranger. Good thing your angel intervened!

  9. Oh dear, this was not the ending to the story that I expected. Why can’t the crazies just leave the nice folk alone? I’m so not kidding when I say that she probably was off her meds and a pharmaceutical delivery was probably very much in order. Road rage: real. Shopping rage: apparently very real. All the same, good work on not losing your cool and busting out a good ol’ f-bomb. I bow to you.

  10. Totally worth it (the wait for part II, I mean)! I totally remember being with my mom at the grocery store years ago when this crazy woman followed my mom into the store, swearing (literally and figuratively) that my mom bumped her car door with hers. Mom totally ignored her, and, when we got back out, she had already left, but had tucked an obscenity laden note under the windshield wiper of our Dodge Dart — yes, it was THAT long ago. 🙂

  11. Baw-hahahaha!! You poor thing. My knees would have been knocking too! Although, I don’t have quite as much restraint as you and likely would have muttered something mildly inflammatory on my way out. . .like. . .”I’ll say a prayer for your tortured soul.” Thanks for a big smile today. I’m sorry it happened but it’s awesome you shared! 🙂

  12. In those moments I default in to “mediation” mode. Then later fume. It defuses situations, but I’m not sure if it’s good for my blood pressure.

    Maybe that was the venting she needed to keep from actually having a psychotic break? maybe?

  13. You are such a great story teller. I always enjoy your posts, and this one was great too! I have been stuck at home all day with a toddler and lots of throw up, so this definitely put a little sunshine in my day. THANKS! 🙂

  14. It is extremely funny to know that this lady probably though she was normal in her behavior. Well, not funny because she just show how much of an idiot she was and did it in front of kids. Nevertheless, in her sad and twisted sense of reality, you were wrong and she was right. You did the right thing. Here’s my Worthless Advice of the Day: Now go out there and buy some chickens!

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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